Georg Baselitz

Georg Baselitz
Graphite and watercolor on paper.
25 15/16 x 18 7/8 inches (65.9 x 48 cm)
Gift of the Baselitz Family.

Baselitz came to international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s for his revitalization of figurative painting and drawing at a time when the avant-garde was dominated by abstract and conceptual art. In 1969 he took the momentous decision to paint his subject--or, as he prefers to call it, his motif--upside down, enabling him to work in the traditional genres without focusing on the psychology or meaning of his figures or landscapes. The two standing figures in Untitled, a man and a woman perhaps, are drawn first in quick, confident strokes of graphite over which watercolor is exuberantly applied. Following a method used by Picasso, an artist he esteems, Baselitz dated the drawing December 7, 1984, at lower right.
Baselitz has noted that the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was “one of his great favorites,” and in the 1980s many of his works were inspired by Munch's paintings. In Untitled (December 7, 1984), the upright, standing figures, with their arms held close to their bodies, echo a type of presentation favored by Munch. Baselitz also uses multiple contours to outline and define his figures, an example of his fluid and fast-moving handling that owes much to the Norwegian's expressive style. In early 2021 Baselitz informed the Morgan Library & Museum of his desire that the institution choose fifty works, spanning the entirety of his career, from the drawings that he had retained in his personal collection. The Albertina in Vienna, one of the largest and most important museums of prints and drawings, was also invited to choose fifty drawings, in tandem with the Morgan. This is among the most substantial gifts of drawings made by a living artist in the Morgan's history.

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